Well, this is new.
I’ve got an accessibility project (I’ve had for a month now) – making things (purposely being vague here) meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 Level AA Rating. What this means is basically making things fully accessible for the visually impaired; making text the necessary font size for a visually impaired person, making sure content is navigable (that’s a word!) via the keyboard, making sure all information is accessible in some way through the use of a screen reader and a keyboard.
I’ve got 3 people under me – originally I was just supposed to be project lead…but they actually refer to me as the boss -_-; It takes some getting used to. ….the poWER…THE POWER !!!! Seriously, they look to me for answers for everything. They go to me to make the tough calls. Honestly, I love it.
Recently, I think this has given me the opportunity to show one of my best strengths: the ability to understand things logically and rationally, with few pieces of information. Like putting a puzzle together. As I said today, I feel like…no, not Batman, but House. Well, and Batman. But House has a team….just like me ;) But basically, they’ll have an issue. They won’t know what to do. They talk and bicker amongst themselves and try to figure out the best plan of attack. But they can’t agree. They ask me for guidance. I don’t know what to do either, I hear their dilemma. But we talk about the problem for 10 minutes, and I’m able to figure out the best course of action, which they all agree with me. And I love it.
They tell me that when I meet with them, once a day or whatever, it clears things up. I really help give them direction. Not only is it nice to be able to help these 3, but it’s great to be able to figure out the best solution where they all agree or back me up. That my opinion, intelligence, and reasoning not only matters, but is crucial. It’s a great feeling to be able to think at level. And I’m finding that it’s coming more and more naturally to me.
It’s also allowing me to be more comfortable with my opinion and my skill. It’s allowing me the great opportunity to test my leadership. And while I’m reluctant to be a leader for social reasons, I think I’m a good one when I’m placed in the situation. I generally don’t hold or organize meetings but I have 3 this week in which I’m leading, organizing, etc. On Friday, I have to public speak for 12 people for about an hour. The best part about that is…I volunteered for it. I could have left it to my team but I wanted to challenge myself, and practice this. I think that generally, I’d be shy about it but I can’t wait this time. I’m really emerging as the leader I always knew I could be if I weren’t so socially retarded…
I actually wanted to write about Web Accessibility. As lead of this project, I’ve learned a lot about the technical aspect of it. Not as much as my team, but enough. And I plan to learn more for my upcoming presentation, this Friday morning. But while there are rules that need to be followed in coding, to meet the WCAG 2.0 Level AA Rating, what I’ve learned most is changing my way of thinking to accommodate the visually impaired.
I also feel that to master Front-End HTML, you need to master making a website fully accessible. You can’t build a website that <insert x% of blind people in the world> can’t use. That’s not a good website. You need to consider how to make your website accessible to everyone. And it’s a different skill. Closing your eyes and listening to a screen-reader.
- visually impaired people start at the top left and have content read to them….and don’t want to hear the same navigation text every time they view a page (which is why we provide a “skip to navigation” ability).
- Flash should be accessible via the keyboard. If you can’t click play, pause or stop, there should still be the ability to do so.
- words like “click here” do not apply to the visually impaired (as they’re not clicking).
- a visually impaired person should be warned that a popup window is opening, otherwise a visually impaired person may not be able to tell that there’s one.
- the color of text on a background should have a certain contrast ratio to be viewable (4.5:1 for a level AA rating, 7:1 for a level AAA rating)
The point is that when you try to develop for different browsers and resolutions, it’s a means to make your site more accessible. But a lot of developers don’t realize the % of visually impaired people in the world. They should consider that developing for different devices, browsers, and resolutions is just as important as developing for the visually impaired. Sure, they’ll spend a lot of time making changes that are only on a text level, and won’t be visually different….which seems…I wouldn’t say pointless, but there’s not as much value in it for the time you spent. But know that not developing for that is actually discriminating against the visually impaired. And that’s what the real problem is.
Anyways, I’m thankful to have had this project. The work is tedious – though, I’m not doing it. But I’ve learned a lot. And not only have I learned a lot, I’ve learned a different way of thinking. And as far as projects go, I can think of no greater reward.